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Tourism officials revamping annual Governor’s Conference

The Nevada Tourism Commission is revamping its annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism into a shorter, meatier annual event focused on attracting international visitors.

“The industry has changed, and the way these conferences are perceived has changed,” tourism director Claudia Vecchio told commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting.

At its peak, the leading statewide gathering of Nevada tourism officials drew close to 1,000 people, but interest in the conference waned during the recession. At 2014’s conference, about 300 people met in Reno in October.

Commissioners voted unanimously to restructure the event and tentatively renamed it the Nevada Global Tourism Summit. The inaugural event is scheduled Nov. 16-17 in Las Vegas.

The conference was a three-day event that alternately met in Reno and Las Vegas. In Vecchio’s proposal, the summit would open with the quarterly commission meeting on a Monday morning and hold an opening session that afternoon and an evening dinner. Then a full day Tuesday of educational sessions, panel discussions and opportunities to meet with the state’s overseas tourism representatives would follow.

“The industry environment has changed, funding has shifted, and the conference has lost its relevance,” Vecchio said in her proposal to change the gathering. “To regain relevance and provide business-building information for the urban and statewide tourism industry, we propose that the Governor’s Conference on Tourism evolve into a highly targeted educational and sales-focused conference.”

Attracting international visitors has been a prime focus of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and the state sees an opportunity to mirror the strategy because many international visitors are fascinated by Nevada’s wide-open spaces and Western flavor and Las Vegas’ entertainment, shopping and dining options.

Many international visitors enjoy Las Vegas amenities but also use the city as a base to take off to national parks and other outdoor attractions offered in rural Nevada.

“It’s an excellent idea and a great opportunity for us,” said Commissioner Lorraine Hunt-Bono, a former lieutenant governor who led the state’s effort to establish a state tourism office in China.

Wednesday’s commission meeting was the first presided over by newly inaugurated Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta.

 

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